In 2012 Election, Gender Gap Is As Wide As It’s Ever Been | Smart News | Smithsonian
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In 2012 Election, Gender Gap Is As Wide As It’s Ever Been

Men and women haven't agreed in three elections: 1996, 2000 and 2004

smithsonian.com

Men and women are different in a lot of ways. Voting is definitely one of them. Nate Silver, over at The New York Times, puts it this way:

If only women voted, President Obama would be on track for a landslide re-election, equaling or exceeding his margin of victory over John McCain in 2008.

If only men voted, Mr. Obama would be biding his time until a crushing defeat at the hands of Mitt Romney, who might win by a similar margin to the one Ronald Reagan realized over Jimmy Carter in 1980.

The gap between men and women in the polls isn’t new, but it’s nearly the biggest it has ever been. In the elections since 1972, Silver explains, men and women haven’t agreed in three elections: 1996, 2000 and 2004. In 2000, “Al Gore won by 11 points among women, and George Bush won by 9 points among men – a 20 point difference.” This year, things look quite similar.

Why 1972 as the tipping year for gender differences? Well, in 1973 the historic Roe v. Wade decision was made. Since then, reproductive rights have become a huge issue in politics.

USA Today has a graphical breakdown of voters by both gender and state. While Obama might be doing quite well with women in general, women in swing states are harder to please, the paper reports:

As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, the survey of voters in 12 crucial swing states finds female voters much more engaged in the election and increasingly concerned about the deficit and debt issues that favor Romney. The Republican nominee has pulled within one point of the president among women who are likely voters, 48%-49%, and leads by 8 points among men.

All these polls, however, are hard to verify and understand. Here’s Junk Charts explaining why polls are often unreliable:

Because polls are small samples of people, poll results can only say so much. Specifically, when races are tight, they don’t tell us much. This lack of clarity creates a certain nervousness among the prognosticators.

Only the final count will really tell us who will win.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Celebrating 90 Years Since Women Won the Right to Vote

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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